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DOD, Defense Contractors Lobby to Block Perchlorate Advisory

The Pentagon and the defense industry is lobbying the White House to prevent U.S. EPA from tightening a health advisory for a rocket-fuel chemical.

Representatives of the Defense Department, the Navy and aerospace and defense companies have met with the Office of Management and Budget this month to discuss a pending EPA decision on the chemical, perchlorate.

In a document presented to OMB, the groups argue that rushing a decision will have "adverse public health consequences and unintended negative effects on all drinking water regulatory programs, and on voluntary, state and federal cleanup efforts."

Perchlorate contamination of drinking water, which is linked to DOD and contractor activities at rocket test sites, has been documented in at least 35 states and the District of Columbia. The chemical can inhibit the thyroid gland's iodine uptake, interfering with fetal development.

EPA said in January it would not decide on regulating perchlorate in drinking water until after the National Academy of Sciences evaluates the federal health advisory level of 15 parts per billion -- a guideline for state and local regulators. EPA also wants the science panel to address modeling to determine the chemical's effects on infants and young children and the implications of recent biomonitoring studies.

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